- TV Series
A fabulous mini-series, makes totally riveting viewing
Jason Isaacs says he hates detective series, and yet he has proved in this BBC mini-series that he is one of the best detectives ever cast in a film. He has all the human qualities that so many of them lack, and his well-rounded portrayal is a triumph, in lifting detective stories onto a higher plane. It is impossible to praise Isaacs highly enough for his superb realisation of this sympathetic character who just happens, as a disgraced ex-policeman, to have taken up work as a detective. The setting is the beautiful city of Edinburgh, exploited visually to the full. Edinburgh is above all the British city with the most magnificent vistas of them all, surpassing even Bath in that respect. The mini-series is based on some novels by a prize-winning Edinburgh-based writer named Kate Atkinson. This explains the fantastically complex and interweaving plots of the films, which go far beyond the normal intricacies of even the most elaborate scripts. The rich tapestry which is thus woven is satisfying in a way that so much of television is not. This mini-series is thus an exemplar of what those of us concerned with quality should all hope for. Three different directors (Marc Jobst, Bill Anderson, and Dan Zeff) helm the three double-episodes, and are uniformly excellent. The series was 'devised for television by Ashley Pharoah', who although he seemingly can't spell 'pharaoh' properly, is a well-known figure in British and American television. The supporting performances in these tangled tales are all excellent. Two of the most charming are by the child actress Millie Innes, who is as winsome as they come and plays the daughter of Isaacs, and the teenager Gwyneth Keyworth, who plays a fascinating waif in the final story. Fenella Woolgar is, as usual, compulsively watchable in a harrowing character role, and Natasha Little as her glamorous sister manages to add extra twinkle and sparkle to a character who might have been flat in the script but got proper three dimensions in her portrayal. Amanda Abbington is excellent as the police woman with a love/hate relationship with Isaacs, and once again a part which might have been hackneyed comes alive as a rounded individual at her hands.
- Aug 18, 2011
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